Monday, December 2, 2019

Dogs Know . . . Mathematics

     A mathematics/statistics education researcher who writes both poetry and song lyrics -- who writes these often and well -- is Lawrence "Larry" Lesser, professor at The University of Texas at El Paso.  A search of prior postings in this blog leads to a variety of Lesser's poems: here's a link.
   And here is another Lesser poem to enjoy  -- this one found along with lots more math-poetry in the Bridges 2016 Poetry Anthology, edited by Sarah Glaz (Tessellations Publishing, 2016).
       Dogs Know     by Larry Lesser

       A dog-eared College Mathematics Journal lies
       open to a paper called
       "Do dogs know calculus?"
       where the author's canine travels land
       and water to reach most quickly
       the ball thrown
       into Lake Michigan.  

       I don't live near a lake,
       I don't know
       if my dog knows calculus, but I suspect...

       My dog knows algebra, making
       series between me
       and the door I head for
       to take him
       for our morning walk.

       My dog knows statistics,
       sniffing out trends
       in data left
       on lawns.
       My dog knows probability by following me,
       knowing food
       most likely
       falls from me.

       My dog knows geometry, solving
       the packing problem
       when there's at most
       one place to join the whole
       family on the TV couch.

       My dog knows trigonometry, tracking
       periodic rhythms
       of moon
       and heart.

This poem first appeared in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics and also was featured on NPR.
Thanks, Larry, for your math-poetic work!

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